Jose Rios of Spain won the 61st Lake Biwa Marathon, the oldest continued marathon in Japan, with a 2:09:15 run yesterday. It was his second victory in two years, having won the 59th Lake Biwa Marathon two years ago which was then his first completed marathon. Finishing second over a minute behind Rios was Japan’s Takayuki Matsumiya, the 30Km World record holder.
Pace picks up after slow start
The initial pace of the race, which started with 151 runners under a sunny sky, was slow. The first 1Km was covered in 3:07. However, the pace picked up to 2:59 for each of the next two kilometres, and so was back to the pre-race plan. The lead pack of 33 runners passed 5Km in 15:08. Tadasu Kawano, director of marathon for the Japan AAF, had asked the pace setters to run each 5Km segment in 15:05.
Because of the relatively quick pace, the lead pack started to dwindle down in size. Nobuyuki Sato, the 1999 World bronze medallist, was the first casualty, followed by Kazushi Hara and Waldemar Glinka of Poland at 6Km. While Joseph Riri and Jose Rios ran near the front of the pack closely following the pace makers, Matsumiya was running near the back of the group. Another Japanese Atsushi Sato, was watching and running close to the co-favorites Riri and Rios. Meanwhile James Wainaina, a Kenyan running for the corporate team Komori Corporation, was falling behind the leaders.
The lead pack of 22 runners passed 10Km in 30:06, and Tomonori Onitsuka was the next casualty at 11.5Km. The day was sunny and thus the temperature was rising but at 15Km (45:09), the lead pack still contained 21 runners. Two kilometres later one of the pace makers left the race, and then Driss El Himer of France, who was barely hanging onto the lead pack for the last few Km finally had to let go at 17Km.
Still on target for course record at half way
The remaining 16 runners at the head of the race passed 20Km in 1:00:15 and the half way in 1:03:35, with the time still on course record pace. Matsumiya who was running near the tail end of the lead pack started to move up.
At the half way point, the second pace maker, Sisay Bezabeh of Australia, dropped out. Kazutoshi Takatsuka, 2:08:56 marathon runner, and Masaya Shimizu were next two casualties at 23Km, and so the lead pack was now down to 12 runners. Then 35 years old Lee Bong-Ju of Korea drifted to the back of pack and starting at 24km rapidly lost ground starting 24Km, and ultimately dropped out.
With only one pace maker, Isaac Macharia, left in front, Rios became the co-leader alongside of Macharia. Then the big surprise came. At 25Km, the defending champion Joseph Riri rapidly lost contact with the leaders leaving nine runners in the vanguard. They passed 25Km in 1:15:27. The 26th Km was covered in 3 minutes, and as the lead pack started to string out Leonid Shvetsov fell behind. However, he was to recover and pass some faltering runners during the closing stages to finish fourth.
As the race approached 30Km Atsushi Sato started to struggle, and at 29.5Km Sato was history. He rapidly lost ground and dropped out around 36Km. Then soon the lead pack of six was split into two groups. Rios, Matsumiya and Macharia in front, with Satoshi Osaki, Muneyuki Ojima and Pablo Olmedo trailing them, and gradually stringing out.
With the final pace maker, Macharia, leaving the race, it turned into a dual between Matsumiya and Rios who took turns leading the race. Rios was looking around a lot, perhaps to find the right time to surge away. He missed his drink bottle at both 30Km and 35Km aid station, but apparently that did not distract him. Satoshi Osaki was running alone in third, while Muneyuki Ojima and Pablo Olmedo were fighting for the fourth place. At the end Osaki finished third, while Olemdo fifth and Ojima sixth.
Gothenburg is next aim
The pace started to slow down. Each 1Km segment between 34Km to 38Km took 3:08, 3:07, 3:11 and 3:13 respectively. Then just before 38Km Rios made a decisive move, to which Matsumiya failed to respond. It was not much of a surge, for the 39th Km took 3:08. However, the gap opened up immediately, and 300m later, it was 6 seconds. Rios hung on to the lead, despite taking 15:57 between 35Km and 40Km, and won by a minute and 5 seconds from Matsumiya. His next target is the European Championships in Gothenburg this summer.
For the first time, I realised that the marathon isn’t easy. I thought I could break 2:10, and that I will be able run as fast as my twin brother,” said Matsumiya, Yuko Matsumiya, Takayuki’s twin brother run 2:09:18 last year in the Lake Biwa Marathon. Joseph Riri of Kenya, the defending champion, lost contact with the lead pack at 25Km, and finished dismal 16th with 2:16:58.
Ken Nakamura for the IAAF
Weather at 12:30PM Sunny; temperature 12.0C; humidity 52%, wind 1.3m/s
1. Jose Rios (ESP) 2:09:15
2. Takayuki Matsumiya 2:10:20
3. Satoshi Osaki 2:10:49
4. Leonid Shvetsov (RUS) 2:10:59
5. Pablo Olmedo (MEX) 2:11:59
6. Muneyuki Ojima 2:12:28
7. Masaya Shimizu 2:12:31
8. Koichiro Fukuoka 2:14:00
9. Masakazu Matsuura 2:14:47
10. Hayato Kawano 2:15:11
11. Manabu Nishida 2:15:22
15) Waldemar Glinka (POL) 2:16:35
16) Joseph Riri (KEN) 2:16:58
5Km 15:08 Sissay Bezabeh
10Km 30:06 (14:58) Sissay Bezabeh
15Km 45:09 (15:03) Sissay Bezabeh
20Km 1:00:14 (15:05) Isaac Macharia
Half 1:03:34 Isaac Macharia
25Km 1:15:26 (15:12) Jose Rios
30Km 1:30:40 (15:14) Jose Rios
35Km 1:45:51 (15:09) Jose Rios
40Km 2:01:48 (15:57) Jose Rios
Finish 2:09:15 (7:27) Jose Rios